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Trump and Pence: On the Same Ticket, but Not on the Same Page

If there is one thing consistent about the business views of Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana — better known as Donald J. Trump's running mate — it is that they are often at odds with the views of Mr. Trump, who has campaigned on his business expertise.

Among the bills that Mr. Pence opposed while he was a congressman were those that turned out to have the biggest repercussions on Wall Street and American industry: the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry — called the Troubled Asset Relief Program — and the rescue of the auto industry.

On the flip side, Mr. Pence voted in favor of amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget, and cutting taxes on the wealthy and on corporations.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Indiana Governor Mike Pence after Trump introduced Pence as his vice presidential running mate in New York City, July 16, 2016.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
Presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Indiana Governor Mike Pence after Trump introduced Pence as his vice presidential running mate in New York City, July 16, 2016.

Mr. Trump's views on these subjects are not on the record in the same way as Mr. Pence's votes in Congress, but the signals that the presumptive Republican nominee has given in media appearances would suggest that the two are far from in lock step. Not that this probably matters to Mr. Trump: When asked on "60 Minutes" about Mr. Pence's vote in favor of the Iraq war — a vote for which he has been torching Hillary Clinton — he replied, "I don't care."

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Let's look back: In 2008, with the economy teetering on the edge of abyss, then-Congressman Mike Pence was furious he was being rushed to vote on a bailout package. "I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot," he said at the time. He voted against TARP, suggesting the country would be better off by confronting "this crisis with resolute courage and faith in God and the principles of freedom and free enterprise."

When the automobile industry nearly collapsed in 2009, Mr. Pence again objected to Washington's providing a rescue. "Simply handing $15 billion out to Detroit today, however popular it may be with some Americans, I believe, in my heart, it would ultimately be a disservice to the American taxpayer, to our children and our grandchildren," he declared.

In 2008, Mr. Trump, who has campaigned for president largely on his record as a businessman, was interviewed on Fox News about the possibility of bailing out the banks. "It's sad, but, probably, it's something that has to get done, because your financial system is most likely going to come to a halt if it does not." On CNN, he said, "Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn't. But certainly it is worth a shot."

And if there is any doubt about his feelings, in a separate interview in 2009, he said, "I do agree with what they're doing with the banks. Whether they fund them or nationalize them, it doesn't matter, but you have to keep the banks going."

Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary who was the lead architect of TARP, recently broke with his own party, declaring that Mr. Trump was a "phony and vowing to vote for Hillary Clinton.

When it came to the auto bailouts, Mr. Trump was also in opposition to Mr. Pence: "I think the government should stand behind them 100 percent," he told Fox News. "You cannot lose the auto companies. They're great. They make wonderful products."

The various differences between Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have been well documented over the last several days. But even a cursory examination of Mr. Pence's stances on business and his relationship with industry shows that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates may be out of step.

Most of Mr. Pence's donors over the years have been far from Mr. Trump's friends. Indeed, Mr. Pence's biggest donor has been the Club for Growth, a political action committee focused on economic growth that has long supported Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Club for Growth's president, David McIntosh, said of Mr. Trump: "Donald Trump is a great entertainer and developer, but his ideas of what to do as president won't grow the economy. He is not a serious Republican candidate." Mr. Trump fired back, claiming the group sought to extort him for a donation.

Mr. Pence has also long been supported by the billionaire Koch brothers. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has thus far been unable to persuade the family to support him, at one point saying of Charles Koch, "You have a lot of people that need him, and I don't need him at all." Mr. Koch, a longtime Republican donor who has expressed dismay by Mr. Trump's candidacy, has said that "it's possible" Mrs. Clinton would be a better candidate. (The Kochs are unlikely to support the Trump candidacy even with Mr. Pence on the ticket.)

As governor of Indiana, Mr. Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that was widely seen as anti-gay because it effectively gave businesses the right to turn away customers based on their religion, and, in turn, their sexual orientation. An outcry from the business community — particularly in Silicon Valley, including Apple — followed. Mr. Pence later watered the law down.

Mr. Trump has long argued that he is a "friend to the gays," at one point suggesting that a North Carolina law passed earlier this year that prevented transgender people from using bathrooms of their gender identity — a law that was also heavily criticized by the business community — was wrong. "You leave it the way it is," he said. In the same interview, he said Caitlyn Jenner could choose whatever bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower. (She took him up on his offer.) Still, Mr. Trump is against gay marriage.

That's not to say that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence disagree on everything when it comes to business. They both want to undo the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law, for instance, and they want to lower individual and corporate taxes. (While both of them have argued for lower individual and corporate taxes, at times Mr. Trump has suggested he might raise taxes on the wealthy.)

In the end, oddly enough, Mr. Pence's addition to the ticket may make it harder for Mr. Trump to raise money from the business community — not because of policy positions, but because of fund-raising rules. Because Mr. Pence is a sitting governor, donations from Wall Street fall under an obscure Securities and Exchange Commission law meant to prevent pay-for-play efforts for state pension funds, according to OpenSecrets.org.

"The rule prevents 'S.E.C.-registered investment advisers' from contributing more than $250-$350 to state or local officials who could select the firm that would manage a state or local pension fund, or some part of it," the organization's website said. "That means most hedge funds and private equity firms — their PACs, their executives, their fund managers and probably their investor relations staff — can't give to the ticket."

But maybe, as Mr. Trump has already concluded, and said Sunday night, "I don't care."